/ Motoring

Used cars: when warranties aren’t worth it

Car repair

Would you buy a car that costs 10 times the normal price and which you could drive only on good roads, when the sun is out? No? Yet that’s the equivalent of what thousands do every year when they buy a car warranty.

Many used-car warranties don’t make any sense when you compare what providers are asking you to pay for cover with what you would pay to repair a fault in your car. In our investigation, Which? researchers carried out this comparison using hundreds of real repair costs that Which? members supplied for specific models.

But even if you were willing to pay up to £665 for the comfort of knowing that you would never get a huge bill if the worst happened, you may be disappointed.

Used-car warranty excuses

The excuses of train operators have nothing on the excuses of car-warranty providers eager to avoid paying out: ‘We’re not covering that problem because the part failure was not sudden enough’; ‘you ignored the warning light’; ‘you didn’t ignore the warning light and took it to a garage’; ‘the car got cold because you left it outside in winter’; ‘you bought the warranty two months ago’…

If you’re still keen to get a warranty and are prepared to read the small print to try to understand what you’re buying, you’ll need to know how likely a crankshaft pulley is to fail and how much it costs to repair. And if you know that, you could probably repair it yourself.

There are some warranties that appear to be cheaper and better value than the rest, but in the cases our researchers examined, these carried exclusions meaning you could claim on them once in a blue moon. As with many other poor-value financial products, these warranties depend on small print burying what you actually get for your cash.

Drive past car warranties

My advice is to put your £300 or £400-a-year warranty cost into a separate bank account and draw on it for repairs if you need to. To minimise the need for repairs in the first place, find out which are the most reliable cars in our car reliability survey.

And if you’ve bought a used-car warranty, did you struggle to get your warranty provider to pay out?

Have you ever bought a used-car warranty?

No (80%, 459 Votes)

Yes (20%, 118 Votes)

Total Voters: 577

Loading ... Loading ...
markl says:
6 July 2016

Having admired Quentin Willson’s work for many years I suggested that the Warrantywise product being offered to a family member must be a good one.

Sure you can guess what happened.

Bad mistake…..

Gary Brennan says:
18 July 2016

I have a limited edition Subaru CS400 which I covered with a warrantywise cover 18 months ago. The car has been in a garage for 50 weeks now!! Warrantywise say its the garage’s fault the engine is broken as a cambelt was put on wrongly. Help how do I get Quentin Willson’s address to “pay him a VISIT”

Steve says:
15 August 2016


I’m another victim of Warrantywise and their special brand of the English language. Just compare the generous undertakings on their web site with the harsh realities of their terms and conditions. I was wondering if anyone has taken these guys to court successfully on the basis of alleged misleading statements?

Dissatisfied says:
13 September 2016

Warranties 2000 please avoid it they will try anything to avoid paying out. Their ‘Independent Engineer’ admitted to Halfords that it was a mechanical failure but when he got back to his office he reported that it was ‘Fair Wear and Tear’
Pretty crooked if you ask me!! I suggest you keep him in phone book Warranty 2000, he will save you a load

Gordon Glover says:
18 September 2016



Very good point Gordon, majority people would not have picked up on this !

Terry Clarke says:
28 October 2016

Never again will I purchase a used car warranty I paid £1200 for three year warranty from the AA on a £16,000 Freelander with 47 K milage , advise anybody do not waste your monies, certainly read every bit of the agreement if your still serious about taking one out .
My clutch went within a year with serious mechanical failure in the pressure plate that caused the driven
plate to burn out to the point of glowing with heat.
They claimed this was fair wear and tear, so not covered.
My opinion of the way the AA senior people in this warranty dept come across when telephoned leave,s a lot to be desired they were very curt, am dreading anything else going wrong in the next 18 months as I know what attitude to expect from them.
As said never again.

Disgruntled From Yorkshire says:
17 January 2017

Not worth the paper they’re written on. Bought a warranty from Warranties 2000 with a car that only had £50K miles and FDSH, assuming it would protect us against the “big stuff”. Unfortunately when it came to a claim, the warranty company sent an “Independent Engineer” to the garage I have used and trusted for 15 years, did precious little diagnostics and reported back to the warranty company that the fault was down to wear and tear……On a fuel pump! It seems that the term “Wear & Tear” could be used to almost anything, once the car has left the factory as far as these jokers are concerned. Independent they may be, but impartial? I’ll let you decide.

Don’t waste your money, just put it into a rainy day pot marked “repairs” and leave it at that.

kevin bacon says:
3 March 2017

van in garage for 3 weeks, 2 inspections by wwise, engine taken apart at my expense so they could check to see what was wrong, van dealer offered to pay half the cost as engine needs replacing but still no joy, being self-employed loss of earnings, do they care NO !!!!! I will take this to watchdog, rough traders, Which, CAB, trading standers, Facebook, county court, the public need to know the cons of having a warranty with Wwise, the even said the warranty had run out, policy said renew date 13, van went into garage on the 9th, shocking shocking shocking


My experience with Warrantywise : Don’t for second think that this company will look after your claim from start to finish taking all the stress and hassle out of it.. No no.. it’s up you to do all the leg work from contacting garages, arranging times, getting quotes, taking photos of the damage etc etc. These guys just want your money and will put every obstacle in your way to not pay out. I obtained 2 quotes for coil springs and they are only prepared to pay 30% of total repair. That’s with their Silver cover! They seem to have no idea on the cost of car repairs!

elizabeth lamb says:
7 April 2017

thinking of purchasing RAC gold warranty parts and labour does any body know how good/bad they are?

Ahmed Sheen says:
28 April 2017

I have AA Breakdown Warranty, which is a bolt-on onto my AA Membership. They cover £500 parts and labour and they have paid out on Crankshaft oil seal, injectors, Clutch Slave Cylinder, Lambda Sensors. They are a motoring organisation and endorse thier product. They fulfill thier breakdown obligations very well. They do put the motorist first. A very cost effective warranty for older cars.

Peter says:
3 May 2017

Warrantywise- Purchased 10 warrantees over a 2 month period spending almost £1000 with them so that my customers could have peace of mind after purchasing a car from me. The first customer who approached Warrant wise for a repair was fobbed off with some lame excuse as to why they would not pay for the repair. I ended up paying over £600 (trade) to repair the car myself on top of the cost for the bogus warranty. When I called warranty wise up to complain I was told that the service history was incomplete even though the car was serviced a week before the customer took the car and that the service history was very good with lots of stamps in the service book. I then pointed out that when taking out the warranty on their website it gave me the option to select part service history which was accepted and they went ahead and took my payment. Today someone from warranty wise called me and told me that only the last year of services is necessary! They change their rules on a daily basis. Finely, they told me to read their small print with regards to terms. They are typical in this industry, very happy to take payment but more than reluctant to fulfil a warranty! Total rip off merchants, I would not touch them with a barge pole! One of my customers told me a long time ago that a warranty is not worth the paper it’s written on, at the time I disagreed, how right he was.

[Sorry, your comment has been edited to align with our Community guidelines. Thanks, mods]